- Epilepsy. In epilepsy, regardless of etiology, degree of impairment will be determined according to type, frequency, duration, and sequelae of seizures. At least one detailed description of a typical seizure is required. Such description includes the presence or absence of aura, tongue bites, sphincter control, injuries associated with the attack, and postictal phenomena. The reporting physician should indicate the extent to which description of seizures reflects his own observations and the source of ancillary information. Testimony of persons other than the claimant is essential for description of type and frequency of seizures if professional observation is not available.
- Brain tumors. Social Security evaluates malignant brain tumors under the criteria in Listing 13.13. For benign brain tumors, Social Security determines the severity and duration of the impairment on the basis of symptoms, signs, and laboratory findings (as set forth in Listing 11.05).
- Persistent disorganization of motor function in the form of paresis or paralysis, tremor or other involuntary movements, ataxia and sensory disturbances (any or all of which may be due to cerebral, cerebellar, brain stem, spinal cord, or peripheral nerve dysfunction) which occur singly or in various combinations, frequently provides the sole or partial basis for decision in cases of neurological impairment. The assessment of impairment depends on the degree of interference with locomotion and/or interference with the use of fingers, hands and arms.
- In conditions which are episodic in character, such as multiple sclerosis or myasthenia gravis, consideration should be given to frequency and duration of exacerbations, length of remissions, and permanent residuals.
- Multiple Sclerosis (MS). Provides criteria for evaluating disorganization of motor function. Provides references to other listings for evaluating visual or mental impairments caused by multiple sclerosis. And provides criteria for evaluating the impairment of individuals who do not have muscle weakness or other significant disorganization of motor function at rest, but who do develop muscle weakness on activity as a result of fatigue.
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI).TBI may result in neurological and mental impairments with a wide variety of posttraumatic symptoms and signs. The rate and extent of recovery can be highly variable and the long-term outcome may be difficult to predict in the first few months post-injury. Generally, the neurological impairment (s) will stabilize more rapidly than any mental impairment (s). Sometimes a mental impairment may appear to improve immediately following TBI and then worsen, or, conversely, it may appear much worse initially but improve after a few months. Therefore, the mental findings immediately following TBI may not reflect the actual severity of your mental impairment (s). The actual severity of a mental impairment may not become apparent until 6 months post-injury. In some cases, evidence of a profound neurological impairment is sufficient to permit a finding of disability within 3 months post-injury. If a finding of disability within 3 months post-injury is not possible based on any neurological impairment (s), Social Security will defer adjudication of the claim until it obtains evidence of your neurological or mental impairments at least 3 months post-injury. If a finding of disability still is not possible at that time, Social Security will again defer adjudication of the claim until it obtains evidence at least 6 months post-injury. At that time, Social Security will fully evaluate any neurological and mental impairments and adjudicate the claim.
- Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). Sometimes called Lou Gehrig’s disease, ALS is a progressive, invariably fatal neurological disease that attacks the nerve cells (motor neurons) responsible for controlling voluntary muscles. Eventually, all muscles under voluntary control are affected, and individuals with ALS ultimately lose their ability to move their arms and legs, and their capacity to swallow, speak, and breathe. Most people with ALS die from respiratory failure. There is currently no cure for ALS, and most treatments are designed only to relieve symptoms and improve the quality of life.
- Benign brain tumors.
- Parkinson’s Disease (also called Parkinsonian Syndrome) with the following signs: Significant rigidity, bradykinesia, or tremor in two extremities, which, singly or in combination, result in sustained disturbance of gross and dexterous movements, or gait and station.
- Cerebral palsy. With: (A) IQ of 70 or less; or (B) Abnormal behavior patterns, such as destructiveness or emotional instability; or (C) Significant interference in communication due to speech, hearing, or visual defect; or (D) Disorganization of motor function.
- Spinal cord or nerve root lesions, due to any cause with disorganization of motor function.
- Anterior poliomyelitis. With: (A) Persistent difficulty with swallowing or breathing; or (B) Unintelligible speech; or (C) Disorganization of motor function.
- Myasthenia gravis. With: (A) Significant difficulty with speaking, swallowing, or breathing while on prescribed therapy; or (B) Significant motor weakness of muscles of extremities on repetitive activity against resistance while on prescribed therapy.
- Muscular dystrophy with disorganization of motor function.
- Peripheral neuropathies. With disorganization of motor function in spite of prescribed treatment.
- Subacute combined cord degeneration (pernicious anemia) with disorganization of motor function, not significantly improved by prescribed treatment.
- Degenerative disease not listed elsewhere, such as Huntington’s Chorea, Friedreich’s ataxia, and spino-cerebellar degeneration. With: (A) Disorganization of motor function; or (B) Chronic brain syndrome.
- Cerebral trauma.
- Syringomyelia. With: (A) Significant bulbar signs; or (B) Disorganization of motor function.
Other neurological conditions that are not specifically listed in Social Security’s Listings of Impairment may also qualify for Social Security Disability Benefits:
Disorders of the Central Nervous System
- Stroke (Cerebrovascular Accident): If you have extreme difficulty and serious problems communicating, walking, or using your hands to grip and handle objects due to a stroke, you may be eligible for disability benefits.
- Dystonia: Social Security evaluates dystonia in a similar way to Parkinson’s Disease.
- Post-Polio Syndrome: Disability benefits may be available for those with severe limitations caused by polio.
- Essential Tremor: If benign essential tremor severely limits your ability to use your hands (such as limiting the amount of weight you can lift and carry, and limiting your grip strength and ability to handle objects), you should qualify for disability benefits.
- Narcolepsy: Narcoleptics with severe narcolepsy have been awarded disability benefits. Narcolepsy is functionally similar to a seizure disorder.
- Migraine Headaches: Receiving Social Security Disability benefits based on severe and chronic migraine headaches is difficult – but not impossible.
- Transient Ischemic Attacks (TIAs): TIAs alone rarely qualify a claimant for Social Security disability benefits, but it is possible if the claimant’s resulting impairment is severe.
- Social Security Disability Benefits for Pick’s Disease and Other Rare Neurodegenerative Diseases: Those with Pick’s disease, corticobasal degeneration, progressive supranuclear palsy, or CJD may qualify for SSDI and/or SSI disability benefits.
Neurological Disorders Related to the Spine (Part of the Central Nervous System, or CNS)
- Transverse Myelitis: Those with long-lasting limitations from transverse myelitis may be able to qualify for Social Security disability benefits.
Disorders of the Peripheral Nervous System
- Charcot-Marie-Tooth: If Charcot-Marie-Tooth syndrome prevents you from being able to sustain work activity on a full-time consistent basis, you may be eligible for Social Security disability benefits.
- Trigeminal Neuralgia and Face Pain: Trigeminal neuralgia is not in the Listings of Impairment, but Social Security Disability benefits may still be available to claimants who can show that the condition is so severe as to impairs their ability to maintain work.
- Dysautonomia: The symptoms and effects of autonomic dysfunction disorders such as Dysautonomia vary wildly, but you can qualify for benefits where you suffer disabling symptoms that prevent you from working full time.
- Acoustic Neuroma: Social Security disability benefits may be available to those with acoustic neuroma, which may be evaluated under the listing for disturbances of labyrinthine-vestibular function.
- Bell’s Palsy: Bell’s Palsy that results in severe and lasting nerve damage may qualify an applicant for disability.
If you suffer from a neurological disorder and you would like to discuss whether your individual condition may qualify for SSDI or SSI benefits, contact Board Certified Social Security Disability Attorney Nick A. Ortiz in Pensacola, Florida, at (850) 308-7833 for a free case evaluation.